'Right-Sized' graphics for automotive solutions

May 11, 2012 //By Andreas Grimm, Fujitsu Semiconductor Europe
'Right-Sized' graphics for automotive solutions
Fujitsu Semiconductor Europe (FSEU) has been an expert partner for the automotive industry for many years, providing hardware and software solutions for various vehicle applications. In this article, FSEU discusses the issue of 're-inventing high quality in vehicles: graphical user interface – compromise or opportunity?'

Defined value in automotive instrument panels

As part of digital instrumentation, elements such as switches, buttons and analogue indicators are being supplemented or replaced by displays, with traditional HMIs (human/machine interfaces) becoming GUIs (graphical user interfaces). This display, which also has sensory and cognitive capabilities, is the GUI between driver and vehicle. GUIs offer enormous flexibility. The scope and variety of information that can be displayed are almost limitless. The same device can display different information and change this information dynamically while in use.

When it comes to instrument panels, a basic distinction is made between the hybrid and freely programmable variants. Hybrid versions combine a number of indicator instruments with simple segment displays or small to medium display sizes. By contrast, the freely programmable instrument panels (FPIs) completely dispense with analogue indicators and a display fills the entire surface of the panel.

In the case of many end products – especially where vehicles are concerned – it is no longer just about functional properties. It is now increasingly a question of brand image too, combined with a defined value that is reflected in the design of all vehicle parts. The user interface is where users make direct contact with the product – and how this is experienced by users makes all the difference to the brand image. This interface is therefore more than simply a means of making functions available; it is increasingly becoming the communication channel between brand and consumer. GUIs make it easy to generate a brand image and create features that set it apart from competing products.

On a traditional instrument panel, for example, high value is represented by the colour of the background and instrument needles, bordering chrome rings and ambient background lighting. The first generation of FPIs that entered series production was still a digital reproduction of its analogue predecessor and important information such as speed, RPM and fuel level was presented by means

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